Are Self-Service Car Washes Profitable? Is Starting a Car Wash Business a Good Investment?

Are Self-Service Car Washes Profitable? Is Starting a Car Wash Business a Good Investment?

Other businesses that depend on the automotive industry are increasing as well as automakers increasing production to keep up with rising demand.

Self-service car washes are one type of company that many people desire to invest in. 

During inclement weather, local car owners may bring their vehicles in for washing more frequently than once per week. 

Do self-service car washes make money, you might be wondering. 

For a smaller self-serve car wash, the average annual revenue ranges from $41,000 to $686,250, depending on a number of variables. 

We are aware that if you do not own the property, you will likely have to pay rent for it, which means you will need to invest in regular vehicle wash equipment. 

But how much more will you get back on your investment if you buy a car as opposed to employing an automatic car wash?

In 2020, there were 62,668 car washes in the United States, with a $15 billion annual revenue, according to the International Car Wash Association.

Even though it’s a very large industry in the US, it’s also quite expensive up front and has a high level of competition. 

You must first take into account all the expenses associated with starting and maintaining a car wash if you’re wondering how much money you can make from one.

This article evaluates the revenue generated by self-service cars and breaks down the setup costs.

I recommend reading this post if you’re curious to learn about the most typical issues that car wash owners deal with.

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Key Takeaways 

  • According to studies conducted by the car wash business, the popular self-service car wash category will continue to develop rapidly up until 2025.
  • The demand for accessible, inexpensive vehicle cleaning and maintenance is only one of the many benefits of opening a car wash business, which makes it seem like a secure investment.
  • Before making a financial commitment to a car wash venture, do extensive market research to ascertain whether the advantages of owning a car wash exceed the disadvantages or the opposite.

What Is a Self-Service Car Wash?

You could learn more about self-service vehicle washes from the name. 

A convenient time for car owners to clean their vehicles is determined by this system. 

Also, a timetable or method that is specified in the automatic car wash may not always be followed. 

Because you decide which areas need extra care, you as a car owner also manage the cleaning resources required to clean your vehicle. 

You can therefore save more money using a self-service vehicle wash than an automatic one. 

A self-service car wash is more practical and great if you own a small business with a few vehicles because it makes it simple to clean your vehicles on the property of your company. 

Other car washes do not require you to spend money.

Furthermore, it’s simple and inexpensive to buy self-service car wash equipment. 

Let’s get into the cost of installing a self-service car wash system first before moving on to the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

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Are Self-Service Car Washes Profitable?

The answer to this question is in the affirmative.

According to Dultmeier, a single-bay self-serve car wash can be supported by a population of 1,000 to 1,500.  

According to their calculations, each bay at a self-serve car wash can bring in between $1,000 and $1,500 each month.  

The US car wash sector brings in $14.21 billion a year in sales, according to Grandview Research.  

The average American spends about $43 annually on vehicle washes, which is based on the 332 million people who call the US home.  

The Dultmeier estimate of around $1 per month per capita for a self-service vehicle wash appears plausible based on those per capita spending figures. 

Approximately $139,000 is the annual revenue generated by the typical in-bay automatic vehicle wash, according to JBS Industries.  

Because it can charge a greater rate for each wash and requires less time per wash, an in-bay automatic car wash can make more money than a self-service car wash. 

As a result, the income potential is significantly larger.

A tunnel vehicle wash reportedly earns $685,000 yearly, via reports from JBS Industries.  

Given that a tunnel car wash charges an average of about $15 every car wash, it can produce a substantially larger annual income. 

A subscription program with unlimited washes is common at contemporary tunnel car washes. 

If you have more than one membership level available, you can distribute active consumers across different membership levels in our car wash financial model by entering the conversion rate at which they can become unlimited wash members. 

Is Starting A Car Wash Business A Good Investment?

Car washes will become more necessary as more people purchase vehicles and as the necessity for a rapid, low-cost way to clean such vehicles rises. 

This makes launching a car wash or purchasing one that is for sale a potentially profitable venture.

Consider these variables while considering whether to invest and proceed with launching a car wash business because not every car wash business will have the same ROI value.

Getting it right can make running a car wash a profitable business. 

Unlike the majority of other small firms, they have a low entry barrier. 

Furthermore, as car washes are frequently located close to main roadways, they receive a consistent flow of clients throughout the week. 

However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a good idea will be profitable. 

Especially in areas where people aren’t used to seeing others wash their cars, car washes can occasionally be risky investments.

Overall, Starting a car wash business is a good investment you should not be afraid to get into because the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and you stand to gain lots of benefits.

What are the Different Types of Self-Service Car Wash?

Let’s first take a closer look at the various sorts of car wash businesses before moving on to the average revenues and earnings for car wash firms. 

It is true that not all car washes are created equal; for instance, a self-service car wash won’t have the same cost structure (or profitability) as a manual hand vehicle wash.

1. Self-serve vehicle wash

are self-service car washes profitable

When a car owner chooses to clean their own vehicle rather than having your employees do it, they drive into your carwash’s self-service bay. 

An average self-service car wash will run you between $7 and $15, depending on the facilities you utilize.

2. Using an Automated Car Wash

are self-service car washes profitable

When compared to full-service, manual hand, and touchless car wash kinds, automatic car wash services are frequently less expensive on average. 

For a straightforward exterior cleaning, the standard automated vehicle wash charges between $10 and $20.

3. Cleaner Touchless

are self-service car washes profitable

The only difference between the touchless and automated car washes is that the latter employs harsher detergents and a high-pressure spray to clean the car. 

The touchless car wash has less potential to harm a vehicle’s paint than an automatic car wash. 

The cost of a touchless car wash ranges in price from $10 to $30 on average. 

4. Car Washing by Hand Manual

are self-service car washes profitable

Compared to an automatic, touchless car wash, the expense of a human hand car wash is significantly more. 

Depending on where you live and what kind of vehicle you have, the manual car wash often costs $20 to $30. 

The manual car wash requires more time than a drive-thru car wash, but it shields the car from dings and swirl marks from the high-pressure jet of the carwash. 

5. Car Wash with Full Service

are self-service car washes profitable

The cost of the full-service car wash is significantly greater than that of the basic body wash because it takes care of the complete vehicle. 

Engine wash, under wash, and interior detailing are all possible parts of a full-service auto detailing package. 

Between $150 and $200 is the standard cost for a full-service car wash. 

Why Should You Consider Investing In a Self-Service Car Wash System?

Here are six reasons to think about investing in self-service car wash machines if you’re searching for a place to put your money to make some money.

1. Big Gains

If you are searching for a business endeavor with a healthy profit margin, think about opening a self-service car wash. 

Even though you will need to invest some money in this business, the payoff is worthwhile.

Additionally, this firm offers tremendous tax advantages that you can take advantage of. 

2. Remote Ownership

You can manage a self-service car wash remotely once you’ve put in place dependable payment methods. 

Your daily presence on the property is not necessary for this business. 

The fact that automobile owners wash their vehicles after making a payment indicates that your business is not necessary there. 

Self-service vehicle washes also require less maintenance, which means you don’t have to go there as frequently to inspect the equipment. 

You may maintain a high-profit margin and get the benefits of returns on investment with little upkeep. 

If you combine a self-service and an autonomous unit, the maintenance costs could increase significantly, but the revenue would also increase. 

A self-service car wash is typically one of those ventures you can conduct in conjunction with other enterprises. 

3. It Safeguards the Environment

Particularly during droughts, many individuals do not favor cleaning their cars at home. 

By using a self-service car wash, you can conserve water and protect the environment.

Ammonia, phosphorus, surfactants, oil, and other toxic compounds leave residue on the ground when cars are washed at home. 

Stormwater runoff from this trash may contaminate the local streams, lakes, creeks, water treatment facilities, and landfills. 

The environment is safeguarded by a professionally constructed self-service vehicle wash, which recycles these chemicals and water. 

4. Installing them Costs less Money

In comparison to mechanized car washes, self-service washes are more affordable. 

Investment in this company does not require you to break the bank or take out big debts.

If you have some money set aside, you may buy the necessary tools, rent a location, apply for a license, and start up your company.

Cons Of a Self-Service Car Wash

1. Automatic or full-service car washes may be preferred by automobile owners because they lack the time or energy to wash their vehicles themselves or because they lack the knowledge to utilize the tools. 

Thus, a rival using hybrid systems may steal some of your customers from you. 

2. Since car washing is a messy job, automobile owners should wear appropriate gear. 

You might not have many consumers who are car owners who dislike getting their hands filthy. 

3. Despite being an improvement over a standard home car wash, a self-service car wash lacks a polished appearance. 

It is unable to offer services that are comparable to those found only at expensive car washes. 

A top level of interior and exterior cleaning is guaranteed by high-end car wash services for customers’ vehicles. 

Is It Worth It to Start a Car Wash Company?

If you do it correctly, starting a car wash business is worthwhile and can be a smart investment. 

The profit that can be made from having a car wash business is one of its main benefits. 

For instance, whereas larger, higher-end car washes can earn more than $500,000 annually, small- to medium-sized self-service car washes can typically turn a profit of $40,000.

The investment won’t start making money right away, so keep that in mind. 

The following are the most typical expenses incurred by a car wash business: 

  • Water
  • Leases or mortgages 
  • Inheritance fees
  • Electricity
  • Cost of labor
  • supplies for cleaning
  • sporadic upkeep and repairs.

How to Increase Profits for a Self-Service Car Wash?

To enhance the revenue at your car wash, you can employ a number of different tactics, such as:

  • Increase revenues by upgrading your equipment: Newer equipment is more cost-effective and efficient.
  • Payroll optimization: To cut fixed monthly expenditures, hire staff on a commission basis or flexible hourly contracts.
  • Provide a wider range of services: Offer other options including scratch removal, fundamental maintenance, and car accessories.
  • Plans for membership: By using memberships, you can increase customer retention. 
  • The lifetime value of customers is also increased through membership schemes.
  • Reduce utility costs by going green by implementing green car wash methods.
  • Utilize reusable goods instead of single-use ones, like microfiber cloth.

Is A Car Wash Business Profitable in Nigeria?

Is Nigeria’s car wash industry profitable?

It is, indeed! 

Although the location of your vehicle wash affects its profitability. 

This is due to the fact that car washing prices differ in every town in Nigeria. 

For instance, a vehicle wash in Lagos can charge 2,000 Naira for a car while charging 1,000 in Ibadan.

Typically, this business makes between 70% and 90% per automobile in earnings. 

You will still have a sizable sum of money after deducting the costs of water, soap, and maybe gasoline for the machine. 

Remember that if you hire personnel, this can be lower because you’ll have to cover their salaries.


In conclusion, Are self-service car washes profitable? Yes. 

The likelihood that automobile owners will test your new service increases if you select a prime location with lots of traffic.

More self-service car wash bays can be installed to boost profit margins and decrease client wait times.

If you promote it and run it correctly, it will take some time before you start seeing results, just like any other business.

We hope that you have been able to enjoy this article from beginning to end and will digest all that has been discussed in this article.

Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions 

In Nigeria, how much money can you make running a car wash?

Depending on how big you want to start, it can be managed by one person all the way up. 
Making N500k per month in the car wash industry is as simple as playing poker due to its extreme profitability. 
The company does not only serve a certain social class.

What dangers lurk in the car wash industry?

One of the most serious concerns related to the sector is the use of numerous different chemicals in car washes, which are used to clean vehicles. Chemicals may endanger the health of workers if safety measures are not performed. 
They may irritate the skin or harm the eyes, for instance, as a result of these compounds.

What advantages do car washes provide?

Regular car washes are an investment in the future for keeping your car shining and clean. 
By regularly washing your automobile, you can keep it free of filth, mud, bird droppings, road salt, and other corrosive waste that can cause corrosion, fading paint, and other issues.

The ideal location for a car wash business to launch is where?

The best route is on major roads.
Many potential clients can be found wherever there are lots of cars. So, it’s generally a good idea to locate the car wash on a prominent thoroughfare. 
A stop sign or stop light, for example, would force the cars to slow down so they are level with the site.

How frequently should I wash my car?

two weeks in a row
Even while thorough detailing makes your car feel and smell clean, you shouldn’t do it frequently. Your automobile should remain in excellent condition with a simple wash every two weeks, a wax application at least every six months, and a quick inside clean-out every few months.


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